- Nazareth, the census & Herod
- Jesus' words and acts
- Denial of historicity
- Jesus: no eyewitnesses
- Further Reading
- Early Christianity
- Which books?
- Early Christian Bibles, Gospels
- Early "Christian" sects & beliefs
- Pre-Christian: Gnosticism & Mandeaism
- Canonical Gospels & Paul's Epistles
- The Apostles
- NT and OT scholarship
"How much we have profited by the legend of Christ"
-- Pope Leo X
The story of Christ was told by mothers to their babes. For the most part his story was the beginning and end of education. It was wicked to doubt - infamous to deny. Heaven was the reward for belief and hell the destination of the denier.
-- Robert G. Ingersoll, A Look Backward And A Prophecy
Since Nazareth did not exist until the 2nd century, when the gospels were being written, this also demonstrates conclusively that the Jesus myth is exactly that, a myth and not based upon reality.From: Are the Gospels True? A look at the nativity/infancy teachings
...archaeological excavations at present-day Nazareth -- ...carried out by Franciscan monks and priests... -- have failed to show the remains of a single building credibly datable to the first century B.C.E. or the first century C.E. The oldest buildings found seem to date from the last half of the third century, and there is no information to indicate what the inhabitants of those buildings called their village.Link
Before the second or third century C.E. -- going back to the Middle Bronze Age -- the site now occupied by Nazareth was a necropolis, a city of the dead. The hillside underlying part of the present city is riddled with tombs and natural caves which for over a thousand years were used for burials. Since Jewish law prohibited cemeteries from being in the midst of inhabited sites, we can be quite sure that there was no Jewish city at the present site in the days when a supposedly Jewish Jesus is supposed to have been running loose there.
In the first century, the major town of Japha was only a little over a mile away, and it is likely that its inhabitants found the natural caverns and grottoes of the Nazareth hill an ideal place to bury their dead.
In this regard, it is extremely interesting that the church father Origen, who lived from 182? to 254? C.E. gave no indication of knowing where Nazareth was, even though he lived in Caesarea, a seaport town just thirty miles from present-day Nazareth!
Nor is there to be found any mention in the Old Testament or in the writings of Jewish or pagan geographers and historians of such important Christian places as Nazareth, Bethany, Bethphage, Ænon, Magdala, or Capernaum.Link
The silence of extrabiblical sources concerning New Testament geography and characters has a curious counterpart in the silence of the gospels concerning most of the places that we know did exist in the areas alleged to have been venues of Jesuine activity. Thus, the major city of Sepphoris – a mere five miles from what is now called Nazareth – is wholly unknown in the New Testament, even though people living in its shadow could reasonably be expected to interact with it at least occasionally. Neither Jesus nor his followers betrays any awareness of this great pagan city in their midst.
- Nazareth – The Town that Theology Built
- Where Jesus Never walked, which discusses Nazareth, Capernaum and a few other places mentioned in the Gospels. Including:
A careful study of the names of other places of importance in the gospels shows that many of them have highly symbolic meanings, are unknown in the Old Testament and in pagan geographies, and -- as was the case with Nazareth and Capernaum -- archaeological evidence for them is unconvincing or even counter indicative. Three such places, Bethphage, Bethany, and Bethabara...
- The Twelve
The Biblical dating system which uses B.C. and A.D. (Anno Domini, "Year of our Lord") wasn't invented until the 6th century when Dionysius Exiguus came up with it. No one had ever known in what year Jesus was born. The year that would become the zero mark was arbitrarily chosen centuries onwards. The Biblical chronological dating came centuries later than that.
The Roman Census and HerodLuke (2:1-5; NEB) alleges Emperor Augustus decreed an empire-wide census during Quirinius:
From: A Nativity Potpourri
Although Augustus ruled from 44 or 42 BCE until 14 CE, there is no record of any empire-wide census ever having taken place. While Quirinius, as governor of Syria, did conduct a census, it was in the years 6-7 CE -- 10 or 11 years after the death of Herod. Herod supposedly still was king of Judaea at the time of Jesus' birth, and he allegedly ordered a slaughter of all boys two years old or under. ... Herod never did any such thing ... Herod died in the year 4 BCE. So Jesus could hardly have been born both in the reign of Herod and at the time of the Census of Quirinius in 6-7 CE! Although Quirinius did conduct a census, it was a census of Judaea, not Galilee, and there would have been no reason for Joseph to go from one jurisdiction to the other.
See also: Are the Gospels True? A look at the nativity/infancy teachings 12 disciples representing the Zodiac, no halo around the head, no miracles such as turning water into wine (Dionysus), raising from the dead and casting out bad spirits like Apollonius, no walking on water like Buddha. Take away the parables, some of which came from Osiris and some others from Buddha. What is left? Who is that? What did he say and do?
And if we take away many Christian rituals like communion, mass, baptism, Eucharist and some of the psalms and prayers, such as the Lord's Prayer and Osiris leading us through the Shadow of the Valley of Death - what rituals are truly Christian? No more pre-Christian symbols like the Cross, the Fish, the Lamb, or festivals like Easter, Christmas, the Epiphany - what remains? (Remember to bear in mind that the oldest and most famous Churches were built on demolished pagan shrines or temples.)
This is pretty much what happened in the Jesus Seminar.
The Jesus Seminar
Meeting for the first time in March 1985, the Jesus Seminar has periodically brought together dozens of university scholars and gospel specialists representing every shade of Christian thought, plus a few Jews and atheists.Link
In their initial study, the scholars collected more than 1500 versions of approximately 500 Jesus parables, aphorisms, dialogues, and stories written during the first 300 years of Christianity.
After 6 years of debate and reflection the consensus was that 82% of the words attributed to Jesus were fake.
In phase two, between 1991 and 1996, the Jesus Seminar considered 387 versions of 176 'Jesus events'. Their conclusion: 84% of the activities attributed to Jesus were bogus.
For more than ten years, the Jesus Seminar has researched and debated the life and death of the historical Jesus. They have concluded that the Jesus of history is very different from the icon of traditional Christianity: Jesus did not walk on water, feed the multitude, change water into wine, or raise Lazarus from the dead. He was executed as a public nuisance, not for claiming to be the son of God. And in the view of the Seminar, he did not rise bodily from the dead.From: The Jesus Seminar book The Acts of Jesus
Of the remaining 18% of the sayings attributed to him, it is not known whether Jesus might/might not have uttered them. Similarly, 16% of the supposed activities of Jesus remain - which he may or may not have carried out. Does this mean that Jesus existed? It is highly possible that the Gospel writers added their own sayings and invented activities and attributed them to a Jesus. In short: there is no evidence whatsoever that the Jesus under consideration - the one of the Gospels - ever existed.
"Dutch Radical Criticism is the usual name of a school that in the nineteenth century arose within Dutch New Testament scholarship, whose representatives aimed at vitiating two axioms of New Testament scholarship still cherished today. They contested a) the historical existence of Jesus of Nazareth and/or b) the authenticity of the lot of the Pauline Epistles. The "and/or" already indicates that the two theses did not always go together. The radical critic Van Manen in his investigations restricted himself only to establishing the inauthenticity of all the Pauline Epistles, without touching the historicity of Jesus, whereas his pupil Van den Bergh van Eysinga in his numerous publications always championed both theses."From: The Dutch Radical Approach to the Pauline Epistles, Hermann Detering, from the Journal of Higher Criticism. The same is also available here.
See also: Radikal Kritik - German site with links to English translations of some of their works.
The Denial of the Historicity of Jesus in Past and Present by Arthur Drews (of the Radikal Kritik school), on the history of the denial of the historicity (existence) of Jesus:
Drews describes the social consequences of a denial of historicity, and explains why so many theologians and secular researchers stick to historicity, though the ahistoricity of Jesus is scientifically as sure as that of Romulus and Remus, or the seven legendary kings of Rome. The consequences are generally underestimated.
The church has done everything for 2000 years to obscure and hide away the origins of Christianity, so that there's no way to get any further without speculative hypotheses. It is obvious that no serious researcher could claim the historicity of Jesus, unless it were the savior of the dominating religion of the prevailing culture. So there's nothing but Christian prejudice which keeps even secular researchers from admitting non-historicity, except of course the small minority of those who do.Fears of the sociopsychological consequences are too deeply engrained. Both Catholic and Protestant churches would invalidate themselves by denying the historicity of Jesus. This excuses theologians who use a bunch of pseudoscientific arguments for apologetic purposes. The Catholic church would lose its apostolic authority, assigned from Jesus unto Peter. Protestants would have set their salvific hopes on a book of fairy tales and oriental myths. The problem has to be silenced away. The established press always sides with the churches as carriers of the society in which they live so comfortably.
Celsus (Epicurean, 2nd Century A.D., writes in his True Word, a critique of Christianity):Link
"I could continue along these lines, suggesting a good deal about the affairs of Jesus' life that does not appear in your own records. Indeed, what I know to be the case and what the disciples tell are two very different stories... [for example] the nonsensical idea that Jesus foresaw everything that was to happen to him (an obvious attempt to conceal the humiliating facts)."
"The men who fabricated this geneaology [of Jesus] were insistent on the point that Jesus was descended from the first man and from the king of the Jews [David]. The poor carpenter's wife seems not to have known she had such a distinguished bunch of ancestors."
"What an absurdity! Clearly the christians have used the myths of Danae and the Melanippe, or of the Auge and the Antiope in fabricating the story of Jesus' virgin birth.""After all, the old myths of the greeks that attribute a divine birth to Perseus, Amphion, Aeacus and Minos are equally good evidence of their wondrous works on behalf of mankind- and are certainly no less lacking in plausibility than the stories of your followers."
There were many Messiahs at the time, many of them called Jesus. But none of them was the Jesus of the Gospels:
Jesus was not new and Jesus was not unique
Here's a list of Jewish messiahs from around the time of Christ
Jesus ben-Ananias Simon bar-Giora Carabbas Theudas the Galilean Judas the Galilean [appeared around 6 CE] Jesus ban-Sapphia the Egyptian Jesus bar-Abbas Elymas bar-Jesus Jesus Justus the martyred Samaritan Messiah Simon bar-Kokhba
-- Deconstructing Jesus, by Robert Price
And messiah-ism didn't end with Jesus. As late as 132 AD a revolutionary fellow named Simon bar-Kokhba was recognized as the messiah.Link, see more at A Surfeit of Jesuses! – But No "Jesus of Nazareth"
Note that another Messiah for the Judaic sect of Samaritans was Simon Magus. He was the Samaritan Jewish Christ, a first century miracle worker. Early Church father Origen, who also listed a few other Messiahs, referred to him as "Simon the Samaritan magician".
Josephus mentions the Galilean Messiahs Theudas and Judas, as well as the Samaritan-Jewish Christs Dosetheus and Simon the Magus. And [Josephus] is confirmed by The New Testament Book of Acts, which discusses [Ch 5] the similarity between Jesus' story and those of Theudas, and Judas the Galilean; they are so similar that they can't be told apart — only the future [from a 33 AD point of view] will tell if Jesus' story is different from the others!Link
Tacitus, Suetonius, Plinius, Philo, Iustus Tiberias, and Flavius Iosephus have all been tampered with by church scribes in order to camouflage Christian origins.
-- Jesus Cristo Nunca Existiu ("Jesus Christ Never Existed") by La Sagesse
For instance, Christians like to bring up the Testimonium Flavianum by the Jewish historian Josephus (c37-100 CE) who supposedly documented all important aspects of Jesus life.
It is a later insertion, a forgery.
The Antiquities of the Jews by the Jewish historian Josephus, published in the 90s [CE], contains two famous references to Jesus, but these are inconclusive. The first passage, as it stands, is universally acknowledged to be a later Christian insertion, and attempts have failed to prove some form of authentic original; the second also shows signs of later Christian tampering.Link
"The passage seems to suffer from repeated interpolations."Once these interpolations are removed, there is nothing in Josephus' statement on this matter that indicates who he's talking about, let alone that it is the Jesus of the Gospels.
-- Catholic Encyclopaedia
Not a single writer before the 4th century – not Justin, Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Cyprian, Arnobius, etc. – in all their defences against pagan hostility, makes a single reference to Josephus’ wondrous words.Link
The third century Church 'Father' Origen, for example, spent half his life and a quarter of a million words contending against the pagan writer Celsus. Origen drew on all sorts of proofs and witnesses to his arguments in his fierce defence of Christianity. He quotes from Josephus extensively.In fact, the Josephus paragraph about Jesus does not appear until the beginning of the fourth century, at the time of Constantine. Bishop Eusebius, that great Church propagandist and self-confessed liar-for-god, was the first person known to have quoted this paragraph of Josephus, about the year 340 AD.
Origen did not quote the 'golden paragraph' because this paragraph had not yet been written.
See more about the actual absence of references to Jesus - and the alleged references to him by Josephus, Lucian, Pliny the Younger in his correspondence with Trajan, Tacitus, Suetonius, and the Talmud (Jewish religious works) and the irrevelant reference by Thallus to a solar eclipse c52 CE:
See also: The Gospels are not Eyewitness accounts and More forgeries
Early Christians, including apologists, knew nothing about the life of Jesus. They did not think of Jesus as ever having been of flesh and blood:
"In the first half century of Christian correspondence, including letters attributed to Paul and other epistles under names like Peter, James and John, the Gospel story cannot be found. When these writers speak of their divine Christ, echoes of Jesus of Nazareth are virtually inaudible, including details of a life and ministry, the circumstances of his death, the attribution of any teachings to him. God himself is often identified as the source of Christian ethics. No one speaks of miracles performed by Jesus, his apocalyptic predictions, his views on any of the great issues of the time. The very fact that he preached in person is never mentioned, his appointment of apostles or his directive to carry the message to the nations of the world is never appealed to. No one looks back to Jesus’ life and ministry as the genesis of the Christian movement, or as the pivot point of salvation history."Link
-- The Jesus Puzzle, by Earl Doherty (Journal of Higher Criticism, Fall 1997)
A Conspiracy of Silence
The Gospel story, with its figure of Jesus of Nazareth, cannot be found before the Gospels. In Christian writings earlier than Mark, including almost all of the New Testament epistles, as well as in many writings from the second century, the object of Christian faith is never spoken of as a human man who had recently lived, taught, performed miracles, suffered and died at the hands of human authorities, or rose from a tomb outside Jerusalem.
Paul and other early writers speak of the divine Son of their faith entirely in terms of a spiritual, heavenly figure; they never identify this entity called "Christ Jesus" ... as a man who had lived and died in recent history.
A Sacrifice in the Spiritual Realm
Paul does not locate the death and resurrection of Christ on earth or in history. According to him, the crucifixion took place in the spiritual world, in a supernatural dimension above the earth, at the hands of the demon spirits (which many scholars agree is the meaning of "rulers of this age" in 1 Corinthians 2:8).
Jesus becomes HistoryFrom: Quick Assembly - Putting the Jesus Puzzle Together in 12 Easy Pieces (1, 3, 4 and 12)
Only with Ignatius of Antioch, just after the start of the second century, do we see the first expression in Christian (non-Gospel) writings of a belief that Jesus had lived and died under Pilate, and only toward the middle of that century do we find any familiarity in the wider Christian world with written Gospels and their acceptance as historical accounts. Many Christian apologists, however, even in the latter part of the century, ignore the existence of a human founder in their picture and defense of the faith. By the year 200, a canon of authoritative documents had been formed, reinterpreted to apply to the Jesus of the Gospels, now regarded as a real historical man. Christianity entered a new future founded on a monumental misunderstanding of its own past.
- Did Jesus Exist?
- Did a Historical Jesus exist? from the English version of the larger Norwegian site
- Fabrication of the Jesus Myth from the website titled Jesus Never Existed
- "Was there no historical Jesus?" from Earl Doherty's site The Jesus Puzzle
- Journal of Higher Criticism - of The Institute of Higher Critical Studies
- The Historical Evidence for Jesus by G. A. Wells
- The Jesus Legend by G.A. Wells
- The Jesus Puzzle: Did Christianity Begin With a Mythical Christ? by Earl Doherty
- The Christ Myth by Arthur Drews
- The Christ: A Critical Review and Analysis of the Evidence of His Existence by John E. Remsberg
- The Myth of the Resurrection and Other Essays by Joseph McCabe
- The Forgery of the Old Testament and Other Essays by Joseph McCabe
- The Witnesses to the Historicity of Jesus by Arthur Drews (translated into English from German by Joseph McCabe)
- The section on Bible scholarship